History

Cannabis in the Christmas Cave

By David Jenison

Cannabis in the Christmas Cave

In 2011, textile fragments found in the Christmas Cave, in the Kidron Valley near the Dead Sea in Israel, were confirmed to be from hemp and flax, arguably the two most important fibre crops in human history. Even more remarkably, it was also confirmed that these samples could be dated as far back as the early Bronze Age (4500 to 3500 BCE), which makes it among the earliest traces of hemp used by humans found thus far. The only earlier trace of hemp is from ancient Germany, in the Eisenberg cave near Thüringen (an area of west-central Germany where the Scythians are thought to have once roamed); in this case, scientists found hemp seeds dating to approximately 5500 BCE! In that particular region of central Europe, numerous traces of hemp have been found in archaeological digs spanning millennia; in one instance, clay pipes dating back to at least 1500 BCE were found, and are thought to have been used for smoking cannabis and opium poppy.

Photo credit: American Colony via Wikimedia Commons.

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